Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mama Bear

I turned into a bear today.
A Mama Bear to be exact.
My oldest who is almost 5 had to go to the dentist this morning. She has 3 cavities. Two of them will need baby root canals.

I’m giving you time to let that sink in.

Will the Mother of the Year please take a bow?

We got to the dentist at about 10:15 am, and I immediately had to start filling out forms. The first few were your basic medical forms asking about her history, and then the ever present “Privacy Policy” forms that I had to sign. It wasn’t until I reached the back page that I started to get uneasy.
The last form was an entire sheet of paper detailing their practices, and at the end of it there was a place for me to sign. Things like, “We may have to use a stern voice to get your child’s attention.”
That’s not so bad right? But mixed in with all of the stuff that didn’t bother me, there were a couple things that made me extremely uneasy.  “Parents are not allowed in the procedure area because of privacy concerns.” And “We may restrain your child either by holding his or her hand, or using a papoose board.” Wait a second… What?! I signed the consent, just to finish the paperwork, and then started texting my friends in the dentistry field. Something was totally wrong with this picture.
My cousin Liz was already on her way to the office to meet me and sit with my youngest while Mads, my oldest had her appointment. She has worked as a dental assistant, and was an office manager for an orthodontist, so I felt comfortable asking her opinion about the situation. I told her about the “Papoose board” and she told me it was, “absolutely not necessary.” So did every other person I talked to.
I asked the front desk if they really didn’t allow parents to go back into the office with their children. She answered that it was a privacy concern and the parents weren’t allowed back in the procedure area. My reply, “Ha. Good luck. She won’t go back there without me.” No way would Mads walk into the dentist’s “procedure area” all by herself. She’s four years old, almost five. She still needs her mommy. The dental assistant assured me that I got to go back with Mads during the first visit, so no worries. “Ok, but what about the next visit?” is what I wanted to ask.
By the time I walked back into the inner workings of the dentist’s office, the place where I had been warned that I wouldn’t be allowed again, I was completely in Mama Bear mode. I asked the dental assistant helping me why they would use the papoose board (hoping it was for extremely frantic children whose faces were falling off and needed dental help right this minute). She told me that they would use it for every procedure that Mads received, from cleaning her teeth to filling cavities.
My answer: “Absolutely not. I don’t want her put into that papoose board thing.”
Her reply: “Well if you aren’t ok with our practices, we won’t be able to see you here.”
Thought in my head that I didn’t say, but I wanted to:  “Screw off; I wouldn’t bring my daughter back here if you were the last dentist on the freaking planet!”
Ok, I know that is a little dramatic. I was also thinking this:
“Screw off; I don’t care if this is the only pediatric dentist covered by our insurance! I’ll find a different one and pay out of pocket!”
Eventually she went and grabbed the dentist, who was busy putting other people’s children in straight jackets and traumatizing them for life. When the dentist came in, I was surprised at how nice she was. I asked her if Mads would be in a papoose board thing for every procedure and she said that wouldn’t be necessary. Hmmmm, interesting answer. Then I told her that I NEVER wanted Mads to be put into one without my consent, and that if it ever came to the point that they needed to restrain her that much, we wouldn’t be staying for the party. She assured me that they would never restrain her without talking to me about it first. She seemed to be impressed that I stood my ground, and the snarky dental assistant stood in the corner pouting.
She also told me that most parents talk to her about restraining their kids, after it has already been done.  Hello parents! If you aren’t going to stick up for your kids who will?
Mads surprised them by being completely helpful while they did x-rays. (They thought they would have to sedate her first). And she lay quietly while the dentist poked around in her mouth. I wanted to laugh in their surprised faces, but I didn’t. The appointment went well, but we have to go back next week for her root canals.
We came to the conclusion that she will have to be restrained for next week’s procedure. I hate the idea, but she has to be sedated, and then given laughing gas so she will be pretty out of it. The papoose board (they call it “the sleeping bag”) will just keep her from flopping around while they try and fix her teeth. She’s actually not nervous about the appointment. Thank God. I think it might be because she heard me fighting for her. While I know that I wasn’t actually “fighting”, I think that Mads understands that I’m not going to let them do anything bad to her. So she knows that next week they are going to give her medicine to make her feel sort of funny, and then get into the sleeping bag, and then they will fix her teeth.
Did I mention yet that I will be allowed in the room with her until they are ready to start the procedure? I am going to help get her cozy in her sleeping bag and make sure she is completely comfortable before they start.
Privacy issues my eye. Nobody messes with my baby bear.

1 comment:

  1. Omg. This is nuts Nicky. We would NEVER tell a parent they can't come back with their child, it's not a HIPAA thing at all. It's just their dumb procedure. And I can't believe that awful assistant. She gives us all a bad name! Doing some research for you right now....
    Nice work fighting them, though. I'd have done the same and can't believe parents wouldn't stand up for their child. If we don't advocate for them, who will?! Glad Maddie did well. She's such a great kid.